Here are some factors that affect the election
1. The development of dictatorship:
Some African countries have a one-party system, which has led to all sorts of electoral manipulations. The love for power makes the ruling party ban potential opponents on basely or flimsy excuses. Some parties engage in vote-buying, intimidation of opponents, and even openly preventing other parties from campaigning. They can go to the extent of destroying the posters, banners, and other electoral materials of their opponents. In some cases, the ruling party may prevent the other political parties from having access to the state media (radio, television or press) in order to campaign or advertise their manifestoes or programs. All these electoral malpractices do not offer an equal playing field or suitable conditions for all the political parties to compete fairly; hence, they undermine free and fair elections.
2. Electoral corruption or fraud: Some of the electoral officers or polling agents may be bribed by some politicians or self-seeking individuals to direct the voters as to whom to vote for. Unregistered or unqualified voters especially children and aliens may also be encouraged to vote for a particular political party. Others engage in double voting, and some electoral officers deliberately delay sending electoral materials to areas perceived as opposition strongholds (popular areas). Sometimes, deliberate attempts are made by some party activists and sympathizers to destroy ballot papers or steal ballot boxes containing thumb-printed ballot papers from opposition areas.
3. Financial problems:
The entire electoral process involves money. The insufficient funds by the sma er parties make the ruling party more powerful. The ruling party may use state resources and institutions to win elections i.e. incumbency advantage.
Secondly, the electoral body can be deprived of funds by the ruling party so that they cannot perform their duties efficiently. For example, where the electoral body does not have the needed funds or the funds are not released on time, they cannot open the electoral register, do a proper drawing of constituencies or go to areas far remote to perform their electoral duties. All these affect the conduct of free and fair elections in any country.
4. High level of illiteracy:
The high incidence of illiteracy, especially among the adult population also mits free and fair elections. Some may not register nor vote during national elections for fear of being taxed. Some also see the entire process as a mere waste of time. Some electorates even sell their votes to some political parties. Others are given financial packages or ‘sweet’ promise to vote for a particular party. Other parties play down on the ignorance of some of the electorates and resort to “lies and deceit’, which they call ‘propaganda’ to win votes and elections. Some illiterates destroy ballot papers unconsciously by voting twice or more on a single ballot paper.
6. Ethnicity and tribalism: in some African states, politics are on religious, tribal or ethnic lines. This leads to division, Insults, fear, intimidation, etc. In some cases, elections assume a “do-or-die affair between ethnic or religious groups.